Originally published on May 28, 2009, in the American Chronicle:
Macedonian names and makeDonski pseudo-linguistics: The case of the name Caranos
Miltiades Elia Bolaris
Balkan Illusion - phantasia archaica:
"...it is very interesting to note that many of the authentic ancient Macedonian words, according to their etymology and pronunciation, have a striking resemblance to the appropriate words used in the modern Macedonian language (and other so called "Slav" [sic]languages)."
"Caran(us). This name might be connected to the present day Macedonian noun "kruna" (a crown). The name "Karanche" is present in todays' Macedonian onomasticon."
From: "Similarities between ancient Macedonian and today's' Macedonian Culture (Linguistics and Onomastics)" by professor Aleksandar Donski, celebrity folk "historian" from FYROM.
Caranus / Karanos / Κάρανος
Marcus Junianus Justinus was a Roman historian who lived around the end of the 2nd century AD. He is famous in posterity for his work in abridging the monumental 44-volume work of another earlier Roman historian, Pompeius Trogus. In his Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, (Epitoma Historiarum Philippicarum), Justin writes about the history of the ancient state of Macedonia, and he narrates the story of the family of Caranos, where we read:
Macedonia ante a nomine Emathionis regis, cuius prima uirtutis experimenta in illis locis extant, Emathia cognominata est. 2 Huius sicuti incrementa modica, et ita termini perangusti fuere. 3 Populus Pelasgi, regio Bottia dicebatur. 4 Sed postea uirtute regum et gentis industria subactis primo finitimis, mox populis nationibusque, imperium usque extremos Orientis terminos prolatum. 5 In regione Paeonia, quae nunc portio est Macedoniae, regnasse fertur Telegonus, pater Asteropaei, cuius Troiano bello inter clarissimos uindices urbis nomen accepimus. 6 Ex alio latere in Europa regnum Europus nomine tenuit. 7 Sed et Caranus : cum magna multitudine Graecorum sedes in Macedonia responso oraculi iussus quaerere, cum Emathiam uenisset, urbem Edessam, non sentientibus oppidanis propter imbrium et nebulae magnitudinem, gregem caprarum imbrem fugientium secutus, occupauit ; 8 reuocatusque in memoriam oraculi quo iussus erat ducibus capris imperium quaerere, regni sedem statuit ; 9 religioseque postea obseruauit, quocumque agmen moueret, ante signa easdem capras habere, coeptorum duces habiturus, quas regni habuerat auctores. 10 Vrbem Edessam oh memoriam muneris Aegaeas, populum Aegeadas uocauit. 11 Pulso deinde Mida - nam is quoque portionem Macedoniae tenuit - aliisque regibus pulsis, in locum omnium solus successit 12 primusque, adunatis gentibus uariorum populorum, ueluti unum corpus Macedoniae fecit, crescentique regno ualida incrementorum fundamenta constituit.
Epitoma Historiarum Philippicarum
Macedonia was formerly called Emathia, from the name of king Emathion, of whose prowess the earliest proofs are extant in those parts. As the origin of this kingdom was but humble, so its limits were at first extremely narrow. The inhabitants were called Pelasgi, the country Paeonia. But in process of time, when, through the ability of their princes and the exertions of their subjects, they had conquered, first of all, the neighbouring tribes, and afterwards other nations and peoples, their dominions extended to the utmost boundaries of the east. In the region of Paeonia, which is now a portion of Macedonia, is said to have reigned Pelegonus, the father of Asteropaeus, whose name we find, in the Trojan war, among the most distinguished defenders of the city. On the other side a king named Europus held the sovereignty in a district called Europa. But Caranus, accompanied by a great multitude of Greeks, having been directed by an oracle to seek a settlement in Macedonia, and having come into Emathia, and followed a flock of goats that were fleeing from a tempest, possessed himself of the city of Edessa, before the inhabitants, on account of the thickness of the rain and mist, were aware of his approach; and being reminded of the oracle, by which he had been ordered "to seek a kingdom with goats for his guides," he made this city the seat of his government, and afterwards religiously took care, whither soever he led his troops, to keep the same goats before his standards, that he might have those animals as leaders in his enterprises which he had had as guides to the site of his kingdom. He changed the name of the city, in commemoration of his good fortune, from Edessa to Aegeae, and called the inhabitants Aegeatae. Having subsequently expelled Midas (for he also occupied a part of Macedonia), and driven other kings from their territories, he established himself, as sole monarch, in the place of them all, and was the first that, by uniting tribes of different people, formed Macedonia as it were into one body, and laid a solid foundation for the extension of his growing kingdom.
Marcus Junianus Justinus, Ancient state of Macedonia, Book VII, paragraph 1
We know that Justinus (and by extension Pompeius Trogus) was using Marsyas of Pella (Μαρσύας Περιάνδρου Πελλαiος)(c.356 BC – c.294 BC) son of Periander / Περιανδρος, as his original source. Marsyas was a Macedonian Greek historian. He was indeed not only a man of letters and a writer of history, but also a man of action, a creator of history. He was a noted Macedonian aristocrat and a commander-general (he took part in a sea battle in Cyprus under Demetrios Poliorketes). He was the brother by a different mother of Antigonos Monophthalmos/Αντίγονος Μονόφθαλμος (Monophthalmos means: the "one-eyed", "blinded by one eye") the one who became for a short time absolute king of the Asian part of the Macedonian empire. We know, therefore, that what Marsyas of Pella was writing here (and from which Pompeius Trogus and Justinus copied) was the purest essence of what the Macedonians themselves considered to be the properly accepted version of their own prehistory and semi-mythical past.
The most famous person named Caranos (also written as Caranus or Karanos, and in its original Greek Κάρανος) from Macedonia is none other than the the fabled progenitor of the Argaead dynasty of the Macedonian Kings who according to legend lived between 808-778 BC. He was the son of king Temenos of Argos, in the Peloponnese, in Southern Greece. This is why the Royal family of Macedonia was alternatively called either Argaead/Αργαιάδαι, the family from Argos, or Temenidae/Τεμενίδαι the family descending from Temenos.
Karanos in Greek means the "head of the group", the leader. Kara/Cara/Κάρα or Kare/Care/Κάρη (in genitive: karetos/κάρητος) means "head" for both man and animal, in ancient Greek. Kara/Cara is linguistically related to the word Kranion/Cranium that means more specifically the bone of the head, the skull, which is a better known Greek word since it has been adopted in the medical terminology of most European languages. Its Indo-European equivalent in Sanskrit is sira-siras (head). We encounter the same word in Homeric Greek where besides head it can also mean a mountain top, a mountain peak, the head of the mountain, a summit (...kratos ap' Oulympioio). As karenon it also means the battlements of a tower, the head-top of the city, the citadel (...pollaon polion karena).
A few centuries later, in mid 5th c BC, in Attic Greek we have Sophocles beginning his drama Antigone, having Antigone exclaim in front of the palace of Thebes:
Ω κοινόν αυτάδελφον Iσμήνης κάρα,
which transliterated reads as:
Oh koinon autadelphon, Ismenes kara /cara (where Greeks wrote K the Latins Wrote C)
and in literal (versus poetic) translation:
O common of the same womb sister, Ismene's head,
Kara, is of course here being used poetically and metaphorically as "person". In modern Greek the word Kara/Cara is also used in reference to the holy relic of an Orthodox Saint's skull, as in: η κάρα του Αγίου Ιωάννου του Προδρόμου/i kara tou Agiou Ioannou tou Prodromou/the (cut off) head of Saint John the Prodrome.
Apollon in Aeschylus' Eumenides addressing the furies/ερινύες admonishes them for having entered his Delphic temple:
οὔτοι δόμοισι τοι̂σδε χρίμπτεσθαι πρέπει:
ἀλλ' οὑ̂ καρανιστη̂ρες ὀφθαλμωρύχοι
Αισχύλου, Ευμενίδες, 190
It is not right for you to approach this house;
no, your place is where the punishments are beheading, gouging out of eyes,
Aeschylus, Eumenides, 190
The words "place where the punishments are beheading" in the original is rendered in plural as καρανιστήρες/caranisteres, which in singular would have been rendered as καρανιστήρ/caranister, the place of beheading. The first formative part of this word is of course: cara/κάρα, the head.
The same word is also used in modern Greek in the word for the act of beheading (verb: karatomo, noun: karatomesis=head-cutting from κάρα/cara+τoμή/tome, noun: a cut, from τεμνω/temno, verb: to cut). The word is used both literally and figuratively. The modern Greek word karadoko=to wait in ambush (kara+doko=head+accept) has the original meaning of waiting (in ambush) to hit someone on the head.
Karanos the progenitor was not the only Macedonian with this name. One of the most famous persons named Karanos was tragically one of Philip II's sons, a step brother of Alexander III, the Great. As a baby this Karanos was killed by Alexander the Great's mother, Olympias, along with his young Macedonian mother Cleopatra, in 336 BC, to eliminate him from competition to Olympias' own son Alexander. Since Olympias was an Epirote princess before she married Philip II of Macedonia, and her son Alexander therefore only half Macedonian, and since baby Karanos was a full blooded Macedonian prince from both paternal and maternal lines he could have easily gather around him the ultra conservative Royalists against the son of Olympias. This was something that had been alluded by Attalos in the famous exchange of insults with Alexander during the banquet of Cleopatra's and Philip's wedding,insults that prompted Alexander to throw his golden cup at Attalos: never a dull moment in Macedonian history! The story is told by Justin, but since he is writing centuries later, in Roman times, it is not confirmed whether the baby Caranos even existed (we are certain of a girl daughter by Philip and Cleopatra) but it is telling that Justin or the fable he is relating wanted the Argaead dynasty to end as it started, including a Caranos (the very last of the male Argaeads were Heracles I and Alexander IV, Alexander's sons by Barsine and Roxane).
Macedonia was not the only place in Greece where the name Karanos appears. It also appears in fraternally related Dorian Sparta. Herodotus (VII,173,2) mentions a Spartan a certain Euainetos son of a Karanos, a Lacedemonian. Herodotus being an Ionian writes Caranos name as Carenos, but it is the same name, with the same meaning (leader) derived from the same root : Kara/Cara/Κάρα or Kare/Care/Κάρη.
Let us follow Herodorus' text:
7.173. ....ἐνθαυ̂τα ἐστρατοπεδεύοντο τω̂ν ̔Ελλήνων κατὰ μυρίους ὁπλίτας συλλεγέντες, καί σφι προση̂ν ἡ Θεσσαλω̂ν ἵππος: ἐστρατήγεε δὲ Λακεδαιμονίων μὲν Εὐαίνετος ὁ Καρήνου ἐκ τω̂ν πολεμάρχων ἀραιρημένος, γένεος μέντοι ἐὼν οὐ του̂ βασιληίου, ̓Αθηναίων δὲ Θεμιστοκλέης ὁ Νεοκλέος.ἔμειναν δὲ ὀλίγας ἡμέρας ἐνθαυ̂τα:  ἀπικόμενοι γὰρ ἄγγελοι παρὰ Αλεξάνδρου του̂ ̓Αμύντεω ἀνδρὸς Μακεδόνοςσυνεβούλευόν σφι ἀπαλλάσσεσθαι μηδὲ μένοντας ἐν τῃ̂ ἐσβολῃ̂ καταπατηθη̂ναι ὑπὸ του̂ στρατου̂ του̂ ἐπιόντος, σημαίνοντες τὸ πλη̂θός τε τη̂ς στρατιη̂ς καὶ τὰς νέας. ὡς δὲ οὑ̂τοί σφι ταυ̂τα συνεβούλευον, χρηστὰ γὰρ ἐδόκεον συμβουλεύειν καί σφι εὔνοος ἐφαίνετο ἐὼν ὁ Μακεδών, ἐπείθοντο.
7.173.2 ...There the Greeks were encamped, about ten thousand men-at-arms altogether, and the cavalry was there as well. The general of the Lacedaemonians was Euaenetus son of Carenus, chosen from among the Polemarchs, yet not of the royal house, and Themistocles son of Neocles was the general of the Athenians.  They remained there for only a few days, for messengers came from Alexander son of Amyntas, the Macedonian. These, pointing out the size of the army and the great number of ships, advised them to depart and not remain there to be trodden under foot by the invading host. When they had received this advice from the messengers (as they thought their advice was sound and that the Macedonian meant well by them), the Greeks followed their counsel.
Herodotus Histories, English (ed. A. D. Godley)
Proceeding from the historic to the Epigraphical record, we go to the island of Crete where we find inscription (IG XI-[XIII]), SEG 26:1044. This inscription which gives us a wealth of information about the public baths of the town, the hours it was open to the general public, what hours it was open for men and what hours it was open for women, etc. It is giving us information about the names of the people who were responsible for the interior design and decoration of the bathhouse, the names of the artists who did the work, the name of the person who gave out the payments and kept the finances of the construction, etc.
οἱ σὺμ Πρατομηνίῳ κόσμοι καὶ οἱ οἰκονόμοι
ἐπεμ̣[ελήθ]ην τῶ βαλανε[ίω ἐκ] τῶν [τᾶς] πόλεος δαπαναμ̣[ά]των καὶ
τ— — —το— — — — — — — —μενον. [ἐ]κ̣ό̣[σμε]ο̣ν̣ οἵδε·
Κάραν[ο]ς Σωμένω, Δι̣ν̣[οκλῆ]ς Ἀγεσίππω, Ἱερώνυμος Ἀπολλονίω,
γραμματεὺς Πρατομήνιος Ἐξακέστα· οἰκονόμοι Σωκλῆς Πρατο-
μήδους, Φίλινος Δινοκλέος ․[— — —]. λούειν δὲ τὰς γυναῖκας
〚— — —〛 ἀπὸ ὥρας [— — —] μέχρι ὥρας [— — —] τοὺς δὲ ἄνδρα[ς]
〚ΡΔΑΝΤΑ〛 ἀπὸ ὥρας [— — —].
On the fourth line we see that among names of the decorators which are mentioned on the inscription there is one decorator named Caranos son of Somenos (Karanos Somenou/ ΚαρανοςΣωμἐνου). Leaving the island of Crete, we now go to the province of Locris, in Central Greece, where another epigraphic document awaits us: We find the short but truly informative inscription:
(IG VII-IX), IX,1 246:
It is a very simple inscription, probably a funerary one, without any other elaboration, but it gives us the complete name of the person: KαρανίαἘλπινίκου/Karania Elpinikou/Carania daughter of Elpinikos.
Then, further south, in the Peloponnese, close to Olympia, the home of the Olympic Games, an inscription includes two persons named Caranos, one indeed spelled as Caronos:
Regions : Peloponnesos (IG IV-[VI]) : Elis
SEG 15:241 Previous Inscription SEG 14:367 SEG 15:242 Next Inscription
El. — Olympia — 4th bc — Ol.Ber. V
τοὶ ϝαλεῖοι, δαμιο-
ργεόντων Καράνο, Φ-
son of Eudemos, from Mende
they made him an ambassador
to the Faleioians (Elians?)
while Damiorgeoi were Caranos, F-
ryniskos, Protectors were
The name Caranos, as it becomes apparent, was used profusely and it appears in both the epigraphic record and in literary works throughout the Greek speaking world, not only in Macedonia. far from being a Slavic related name (the Slavs had to wait another thousand years before they appeared in these lands) it is a Panhellenic name. It also in its female form too, as Carania/Καρανία.
In the Ionian island of Chios we even find a local place name, a toponym, incorporating the word "caranos":
beginning and end of both columns missing}
Κη(πίον) πρ]ὸς Τρικα(ράνῳ)
Κη(πίον) πρὸς —]ιων οἰκ(ία)
a small garden in the direction of Tricaranos
a small garden in the direction of the residence of ...ion
Tricaranos, the toponym in Chios means "threeheaded", obviously referring to a land feature reminding someone of "three hills" or better yet: "three heads".
Others can claim that "this name might be connected to the present day [slavo]Macedonian noun "kruna" (a crown)". Yet, if they had bothered to open any Latin dictionary, before committing ink on paper, they could have easily discovered that the root word of their "kruna" is the Latin word corona which can mean a wreath, a garland or a diadem: a crown, what the Greeks would call a stephanos. The English word crown is of course derived from the Latin world corona. It is obvious that both the Latin corona and the Greek cara / καρα (from which Caranos is derived) have the same Indo-European mother, the root word: *krreh2. The Latin word cerebrum for "brain of the head" (versus bone marrow), the Albanian (Dacian-derived) word krye for "head" and the Greek word kranion (later borrowed from Greek into Latin as cranium), as well as the Avestani (Iranian related) word sara for "head", and the Sanskrit word siras also for head, are all related. Then the Greek-sounding Tocharian B word kraniye for neck and the Hittite kitkar for "headlong" are all relater to the Greek kare/kara. All of them in turn are derived from our original Indo-European common word *krreh2 , which meant: head.
Caranos / Καρανος means "the head of the clan", i.e. the leader.
To cover all of our bases, we need to also look at the similarly sounding word koiranos/κοίρανος. Ιt appears in Homer's Iliad a few times, once as the name of the leader of the Lycians:
οὐδ' ἄρ' Ὀδυσσῆϊ μεγαλήτορι μόρσιμον ἦεν
ἴφθιμον Διὸς υἱὸν ἀποκτάμεν ὀξέϊ χαλκῷ·
τώ ῥα κατὰ πληθὺν Λυκίων τράπε θυμὸν Ἀθήνη.
ἔνθ' ὅ γε Κοίρανον εἷλεν Ἀλάστορά τε Χρομίον τε
Ἄλκανδρόν θ' Ἅλιόν τε Νοήμονά τε Πρύτανίν τε.
But not for great-hearted Odysseus was it ordained
to slay with the sharp bronze the valiant son of Zeus;
wherefore Athene turned his mind toward the host of the Lycians.
Then slew he Coeranus and Alastor and Chromius and
Alcandrus and Halius and Noëmon and Prytanis;
Homer, Iliad, Rhapsody V, 678
Coeranus/Koiranos/Κοίρανος is not related linguistically to Caranos, though it has a very similar meaning, nor is it related to cara the word for head. It is rather derived from the PIE root *koro- meaning "war" as it is atetsted in Lithuanian karas for "war and quarrel,and " karias " for army;" the O.C.S. Word kara for "strife, the Old Persian word kara for "host, people, army;" and finaly the Greek word koiranos/κοίρανος as "ruler of the armed men, commander of the army". The Old English name Harry, being not a derivative but the original form of the name Henry, is related etymologically and linguistically to Koiranos as it is to the old English word "hergian", meaning to "make war, lay waste, ravage, plunder", and it was used in the Old English "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" to describe the devastating actions of the Vikings in England. Harry and Hergian are in turn probably dit=rectly related to the Old Germanic word *kharjaz meaning "an armed force". Coeranus/Koiranos/Κοίρανος as we mentioned earlier is derived from *koro- meaning "war" and is unrelated to Caranos.
Finally, what about Caranche, which we were told that it is a name that exists in today's Slavo-Makedonian "onomasticon"? We found that there is a village in Bulgaria called Каранци/Karanche close to Велико Търново/Veliko Tyrnovo. There is also a Горњи Каранци/Gornje Karanche and a Donji Karanci/ in Serbia. So, having been told that the same name exists in what professor Donski using a misnomer calls "Macedonian onomasticon" we can assume that maybe there is someone or some place somewhere in FYROM that may have the same name. We are led to believe that Каранци/Karanche/Karanci is a typical South Slavic toponym.
But is it? Unfortunately for professor Donski, the name Karanci is far from being related to Karanos/Caranos and anything of ancient Macedonia. It is actually a typical Turkish name: Karanci, the black one. The ending "-ci" is pronounced as either "-chi/-tsi" or "-dzi" in Turkish, depending on the spelling and the usage, and words like Kafeci/Kafedzi, the coffeehouse man or Gaitanci/Gaitandzi, the man who makes Gaitagans, swords, or Tufekci/Toufekshe, the man who makes toufeks, shotguns, are commonplace. "Kara" means "black" in Turkish (Kara Deniz : Black Sea, in Turkish, but and in Mongolian: Kara-Korum, capital city of ancient Mongolia). As a last name the Turkish name Karanci appears in all the Balkan nations that have gone through the centuries-old Ottoman occupation, starting with the original in Turkish as Karanci (a short search in Facebook will bring up several Huseyin and Nuray, Mehmet and Mustafa, Akhrat and Abdullah Karanci-s). This name also appears in Greek names Hellenized as Karantzis, Karantzidis, or even Karantzaferis. In South Slavic names (Serbia, Bulgaria, FYROM, Bosnia etc) Karanci appears Slavicized as Karanche, Karantjov, Karadzov, Karadzovic, Karandzovski, and we should not forget the Bosnian Serb leader: Karadzic.
I am quite certain by now that some of the pseudohistorian-pseudolinguist professors from Shtip or Skopje have never even seen the inside pages of a Greek or Latin dictionary. What I have lately also come to suspect is that they are additionally in desperate need of some good south Slavic Lexica too. Otherwise I would be at a loss to explain could anyone confuse the obviously Turkish Karanci with the Greek Karanos and mistake them both for being South Slavic! My humble suggestion would be that they should be starting with the procurement of one good dictionary of the Serbian language and another one in Bulgarian. Both of these dictionaries would do wonders for the on going search to clarify the linguistic and ethnic roots of the south Slavic people inhabiting FYROM, who now mistake their roots for being Macedonian.
The Skopje regimes, starting with Tito's Jugoslavia in 1944, down to Gruevski, has been relentlessly bombarding their people with fake fables of a glorious Macedonian past, and they are increasingly led to believe that they are indeed real blood descendants of Caranos, Philip II and Alexander the Great.
Leaving Turkish names and Serbo-bulgarian dictionaries aside let us return to Caranos, the original king of the Macedonians and let us repeat in conclusion, lest some in Skopje forget, what the Latin historian Justinus stated (referencing back to Pompeius Trogus and through him to the Macedonian prince-writer Marsyas of Pella) in the beginning of this paper:
Sed et Caranus : cum magna multitudine Graecorum sedes in Macedonia responso oraculi iussus quaerere...
But Caranos, accompanied by a great multitude of Greeks, having been directed by an oracle to seek a settlement in Macedonia..."
Caranus cum magna multitudine Graecorum sedes in Macedonia!
Coming next fall, I am considering opening a Latin language school in Skopje: Let the lessons in Latin begin!
As for the ones who are adamant about becoming Macedonians, we will offer a complete curriculum in the Classics, including of course lessons in Greek. Courses will be starting with easy to understand quotes from Strabo the Geographer:
Ἐστι µέν οὖν Ἑλλάς καί ἡ Μακεδονία/Esti men oun Hellas kai he Makedonia: Macedonia of course is part of Greece too.
Caranos / Καρανος, was an appropriately chosen name for the mythical first head of the pastoral makednoi tribes of Greeks (Makednoi means "highlanders" in Greek), whom he led as they were descending (around mid 9th c BC) down into the fertile plains of the land that took eventually their name: Μακεδονία/Macedonia.